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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/562/

The only Japanese family in Ocean Park

My father was always a loner. He never lived within, like, the Japanese community. We were the only Japanese family at Ocean Park. So he was a loner in that respect so I don’t know if he experienced racism, although I’m sure he did because you know how terrible the laws were. But somehow, it didn’t…it wasn’t an issue until after he came back from Bismarck and after Manzanar and you know, he began drinking and, oh, it was like total change. And he never spoke to a Caucasian after that. He was quite bitter. Quite bitter.


discrimination interpersonal relations racism World War II

Date: December 27, 2005

Location: California, US

Interviewer: John Esaki

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, co-author of the acclaimed Farewell to Manzanar, was born in 1934 in Inglewood, California. The youngest of ten children, she spent her early childhood in Southern California until 1942 when she and her family were incarcerated at the World War II concentration camp at Manzanar, California.

In 1945, the family returned to Southern California where they lived until 1952 when they moved to San Jose, California. Houston was the first in her family to earn a college degree. She met James D. Houston while attending San Jose State University. They married in 1957 and have three children.

In 1971, a nephew who had been born at Manzanar asked Houston to tell him about what the camp had been like because his parents refused to talk about it. She broke down as she began to tell him, so she decided instead to write about the experience for him and their family. Together with her husband, Houston wrote Farewell to Manzanar. Published in 1972, the book is based on what her family went through before, during, and after the war. It has become a part of many school curricula to teach students about the Japanese American experience during WWII. It was made into a made-for-television movie in 1976 that won a Humanitas Prize and was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Writing in a Drama.

Since Farewell to Manzanar, Houston has continued to write both with her husband and on her own. In 2003, her first novel, The Legend of Fire Horse Woman was published. She also provides lectures in both university and community settings. In 2006, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston received the Award of Excellence for her contributions to society from the Japanese American National Museum. (November 25, 2006)

George Katsumi Yuzawa
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George Katsumi Yuzawa

Reaction to a 1942 speech by Mike Masaoka, Japanese American Citizen League's National Secretary

(1915 - 2011) Nisei florist who resettled in New York City after WW II. Active in Japanese American civil rights movement

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Lorraine Bannai
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Lorraine Bannai

First learning about the incarceration experience in college

(b. 1955) Lawyer

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Lorraine Bannai
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Lorraine Bannai

Feeling angry upon reading of Supreme Court case, 'Korematsu v. United States'

(b. 1955) Lawyer

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Dale Minami
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Dale Minami

Reasons for conformity and competitiveness in Gardena, California

(b. 1946) Lawyer

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Mako Nakagawa
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Mako Nakagawa

Search of family home by the FBI following the bombing of Pearl Harbor

(1937 - 2021) Teacher

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Dale Minami
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Dale Minami

Reflections on the importance of history

(b. 1946) Lawyer

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Mako Nakagawa
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Mako Nakagawa

Not recognizing father after reunion at Crystal City, Texas

(1937 - 2021) Teacher

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Mako Nakagawa
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Mako Nakagawa

A child's memories of activities at Crystal City, Texas

(1937 - 2021) Teacher

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Jimmy Ko Fukuhara
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Jimmy Ko Fukuhara

Hearing about Pearl Harbor

(b. 1921) Nisei veteran who served in the occupation of Japan

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George Yamada
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George Yamada

Japanese American railroad workers are fired following the bombing of Pearl Harbor

(b. 1923) Chick sexer

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George Yamada
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George Yamada

A racist encounter at a movie theater following the bombing of Pearl Harbor

(b. 1923) Chick sexer

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George Yamada
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George Yamada

Losing job with railroad because of being Japanese American

(b. 1923) Chick sexer

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Jimmy Ko Fukuhara
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Jimmy Ko Fukuhara

Traveling to Manzanar

(b. 1921) Nisei veteran who served in the occupation of Japan

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Margaret Oda
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Margaret Oda

Victory Corps Work during World War II

(1925 - 2018) Nisei educator from Hawai‘i

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Jimmy Ko Fukuhara
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Jimmy Ko Fukuhara

Jobs in Manzanar

(b. 1921) Nisei veteran who served in the occupation of Japan

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